Oppo A74 hands-on: a replacement for the popular A72?

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Oppo touted the Oppo A72 as their most popular smartphone in 2020, which is why the Oppo A74 release for 2021 is all the more exciting. We received the new mid-range smartphone before the official announcement and are more than happy to dive into the practical.

Well

  • AMOLED display
  • 5,000 mAh battery
  • Snapdragon 662 SoC
  • 33 watt fast charge

Bad

  • Cheap-looking plastic cover on the back
  • The triple camera setup does not have an ultra wide angle
  • Disappointing photo quality
  • 60 Hertz display
  • IPX4 certification only

A quick first impression: surprisingly mediocre

I have to start all over with praise for how great the mid-range smartphone has become. Smartphones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro or the Realme 8 Pro offer AMOLED displays with a refresh rate of 120 Hertz or 108 megapixel cameras without breaking the bank. I found Oppo’s A-series devices exciting in the sense that the manufacturer did really well with the Find X3 series released earlier this year.

So I was quite disappointed to discover that the Oppo A74 is a recycled product with no outstanding result. Looking at the technical data alone, the price of 249 euros offers a lot. Features such as the superior fast charging in the Realme 8 Pro, the long-term software support of the Galaxy A32 5G and the 5G connectivity in the Redmi Note 9T are extremely attractive offers for devices that initially cost less than 300 euros.

Note: R.In the case of Oppo smartphones, it should be mentioned that the devices are not available in the US, but are sold in Europe.

However, anyone interested in ColorOS or other Oppo accessories like the Enco X True Wireless headphones might like the A74. In addition, the smartphone sits comfortably in the hand without being overly bulky in a 6.4-inch form factor, which is equipped with an AMOLED display and a viewer-friendly 20: 9 format.

Display & Feel: AMOLED meets plastic

The Oppo A74 offers a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with FHD + resolution and a refresh rate of 60 Hz. The smartphone measures 160.3 x 73.8 x 7.95 millimeters and weighs 175 grams. The back is made of plastic and has protection class IPX4. This means that the Oppo A74 is not waterproof. So make sure you keep it nice and dry at all times.

What I liked:

  • Bright AMOLED display.
  • Nice and compact form factor.
  • Fingerprint sensor under the display.

What I did not like:

  • Plastic feeling.
  • IPX4 certification.
  • Vibration motor.
  • Plastic back is a fingerprint magnet.

The 20: 9 aspect ratio is rather mediocre in terms of the brightness of an AMOLED display. However, the FHD + resolution is perfectly adequate for your daily needs. Compared to other manufacturers, the refresh rate of 60 Hz really bothered me. While the 5G-enabled model has a higher refresh rate, it has to sacrifice the AMOLED display for an LCD screen instead.

However, due to the narrow display format and a screen size of 6.4 inches, the A74 looks quite compact. Of course, this is not a small smartphone that can be easily operated with one hand, but it still supports one-handed operation.

I have absolutely no love for the vibration motor, which I would rather turn off when using the OS as the haptic feedback is not refined. Overall, the smartphone looks cheap with its plastic back.

Performance: Snapdragon 662 doesn’t work miracles

The Oppo A74 is equipped with a Snapdragon 662 SoC that has eight cores clocked at up to 2.0 GHz. The manufacturer uses 6 GB LPDDR4X-RAM for the storage and 128 GB internal storage (UFS 2.1). WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 support are also on board.

What I like:

  • Adequate storage configuration.
  • 3.5 mm jack plug.

What I did not like:

  • Unsatisfactory performance.
  • Lack of 5G support.

I neglected to run benchmarks in this hands-on test because they take a lot of time over multiple runs. Also, I didn’t really use the smartphone as my daily driver. Here are just a few quick impressions of the operating system’s smoothness, with a couple of quick PUBG Mobile sessions done for good measure.

Navigating the operating system is not as easy as it should be, even after the initial setup. Apps don’t start right away, and the lags or stuttering transitions happen too often to ensure a smooth user experience. Of course, this is a huge dislike for a technology journalist, but it might not bother others who are patient.

Mobile games can be played on the Oppo A74, but you have to contend with rather long loading times. I installed PUGB Mobile for hands-on gaming and was able to keep up with the other players while running with low graphics settings. While Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 are available in the Oppo A74, both standards are a bit out of date today.

Camera: Triple camera without an ultra-wide angle lens

On the back of the Oppo A74 is a triple camera setup with a 64 megapixel main camera. Just below it is a 2-megapixel macro camera and a 2-megapixel depth camera. In contrast to the Galaxy A52, there is no optical image stabilization in any of them. The front camera has a fixed focus lens with a resolution of 16 megapixels.

NextPit Oppo A74 back

The Oppo A74 has a plastic back that easily attracts fingerprints / © NextPit

What I like:

  • Opposite’s choice of colors is commendable.

What I did not like:

  • Triple camera setup without an ultra-wide angle or telephoto lens.
  • No image stabilization.
  • The front camera has no autofocus.

While I could actually live with the Oppo A74 in every way on my first impression, things are starting to go south as far as the camera is concerned. A triple camera setup with a 48-megapixel main camera without image stabilization and without a camera with a second focal length will be out of date by 2021. The 16-megapixel front camera with a fixed focus lens isn’t great either. Here are some results for you to judge.

Oppo A74 standard

Here is a photo that was taken with the main camera / © NextPit

The main camera delivers pretty good colors and I like the mood of the picture. Not all of the details have been captured, however, especially if you look up as the trees meet the sky.

Oppo A74 HDR

With HDR mode switched on / © NextPit

However, Oppo’s software delivers really nice HDR recordings! However, even without cropping, there are noticeable chromatic aberrations, which are small color imperfections around the sun that are visible. This happens from time to time with other leaves as well.

Oppo A74 portrait

Sorry for the gaunt looks, it was early! / © NextPit

The selfie camera doesn’t give really good results. The picture was taken with portrait orientation enabled, but there is no blurring in the background.

Oppo A74 macro

Do we really want to talk about the macro camera? / © NextPit

Last but not least, a sample shot with the macro camera. There is nothing positive that can be taken away from here.

Night shots or pictures taken in low light are examined later in the week. Do you think the Oppo A74 can make up for its bad first impression?

Battery life and fast charging

The Oppo A74 has a 5,000 mAh battery that can be quickly charged using the 33 watt power adapter that is included. Thanks to the refresh rate of 60 Hz, the battery should last a long time – but I have to use the smartphone longer in everyday use to find out its limits.

What I like:

  • The battery capacity of 5,000 mAh sounds promising.
  • 33 watt fast charge.

What I did not like:

  • No wireless charging support.

I can’t say too much about battery life after just a few hours of use. In general, a capacity of 5,000 mAh is considered good, although this is nothing special in this price range. The 33 watt fast charging support with the included power supply is an absolute highlight.

First impression: surprisingly mediocre

My preliminary verdict on the Oppo A74 is: surprisingly mediocre. After the really good models of the Find X3 series and the excellent Color OS 11 experience, I would have expected a middle class that is comparable to the offers from Xiaomi, Realme or even Samsung. Unfortunately, Oppo may have just priced itself out of the competition.

The most attractive thing about the Oppo A74 is certainly the price of 249 euros, which offers 128 GB of internal storage and 6 GB of RAM. Perhaps this smartphone with a 5,000 mAh battery and a 60 Hertz AMOLED display will be the new benchmark for a smartphone in this price range in 2021. As I spend more time with this smartphone in the next few days, I expect a full review to be published.

So, if you are interested in the Oppo A74, it should be returned for the review. Also, feel free to leave me any questions you may have in the comments so that I can specifically answer them during the test.

Oppo A74

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